Hendricks Chapel’s Food Pantry at SU addresses food insecurity

We at Hendricks Chapel were grateful to Iris St. Meran and camera operator, Mark, from News Channel 9, who visited the Hendricks Chapel Food Pantry today. Food insecurity, both on and off campus, is deeply concerning. Syracuse University’s Office of Community Engagement is helping to shed light on this serious topic. Click the photo below to see the video and read the story. 
For more information on our food pantry or to donate, click HERE

12 Tips and Tricks for Finding Your Spiritual Community on Campus

Moving to a new town or city can be challenging and often the most daunting piece is finding a sense of community. For university students this can be even more challenging, especially when you’re trying to find your spiritual home.

Fortunately, Syracuse University has a thriving and diverse multi-faith community, thanks to the late Senator Francis Hendricks and many others. In the 1920s Senator Hendricks donated funds to build a chapel in honor of his wife, Eliza Jane Hendricks. He planned for Hendricks Chapel to be welcoming to all, and in 1930 it opened its doors as “a home for all faiths and place for all people.”

It’s curious to think about the definition of the word chapel and its counterpart, chaplain. Chapels are often found in places where a dedicated place of quietude or reflection is needed.

Dean of Hendricks Chapel Brian Konkol (left) and Buddhist Chaplain Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz smile during a retreat
The Rev. Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel, and Buddhist Chaplain Jikyo Bonnie Shoultz share a moment together during a recent chapel retreat.

Unlike most churches, mosques, synagogues or temples, Hendricks Chapel is not tied to one particular religion. Chaplains often represent a religion, but any chaplain at Syracuse University is called upon as a trusted and confidential advisor available to all students. Our chaplains, including an imam, a rabbi, a priest and several pastors, work together under the umbrella of Hendricks Chapel. They share resources and talents to better serve our students.

The chapel hosts nine chaplaincies, 25 student-led religious and spiritual groups, and sponsors over 1,000 programs for more than 500,000 annual attendees. Hendricks Chapel employs student workers, supports musical ensembles, offers direct assistance through the Student Opportunity Fund and Food Pantry, and partners throughout the campus community to advance academic excellence at a university welcoming to all. To help students learn about resources, welcome letters from various chaplains have been sent via email, in addition to a letter from Dean of Hendricks Chapel Brian Konkol.

While many students enter Syracuse University with a defined religious or spiritual identity, there are many others who perceive themselves as “spiritual but not religious” or perhaps identify with multiple traditions or none at all. Whatever the case, at Hendricks Chapel there is a place for all students regardless of identity or practice, and we invite all to find a sense of community, perhaps with one of the following tips and tricks.

1. First of all, Hendricks Chapel is a great place to hang out. Whether sitting in the main chapel for quiet reflection, grabbing a coffee at People’s Place Café or studying in the Noble Room, you can easily get a sense of Hendricks Chapel’s vibe by spending time in the building.

three students sit together in the Noble Room in Hendricks Chapel, talking and enjoying coffee
Hendricks Chapel’s Noble Room is a great spot to find community or catch up with friends.

2. There is no obligation to join a group. You can attend one session to learn if you like it, and you are free to return (or not) without pressure. All gatherings are listed on Syracuse’s Community Calendar.

3. Play the piano and charge your phone! The Noble Room on the chapel’s lower level has a piano that you can play (while being sensitive to others who may be studying!) and you may also charge your phone at one of the courtesy charging stations.

4. It’s better with friends. If you’re nervous, recruit a fellow student to attend a gathering with you. If your friends are going to Taco Tuesday, tag along.

four students in Syracuse sweatshirts enjoy a treat at the Hendricks Chapel ice cream social
Students enjoyed a sweet treat at the New Student Ice Cream Social hosted by Hendricks during Syracuse Welcome.

5. Attend an event! Hendricks hosts many events sponsored by chaplaincies or one of our religious and spiritual life groups, and many others that partner with academic departments, campus divisions or other registered student organizations.

6. Music and Message is a weekly gathering filled with inspirational messages and wonderful music from the Hendricks Chapel choir, Setnor School of Music musicians and visiting groups.

7. Try new things! During Interfaith Exploration Week, held each spring, you can participate in over 40 programs such as Jumuah Prayer (Muslim), Mass (Catholic), Shabat Services (Jewish), Campus Church (Baptist), Meditation (Buddhist/Multifaith) and more!

8. Join a community service project. You can find upcoming opportunities on the Syracuse Community Calendar.

9. Keep trying. Just like brussels sprouts, you may have your doubts after just one taste. So, allow yourself a little time to adjust.

10. Visit with the chaplains, Dean Konkol or any members of our team. Call the chapel at 315.443.2901 or email and we are happy to help!

11. Work or volunteer at Hendricks! The chapel is always accepting volunteers to staff the food pantry or events. Hendricks also hires students as hospitality associates and People’s Place baristas throughout the school year.

12. Peruse the Hendricks Chapel website to learn more about our community, events and chaplaincies.

In this time of great discovery, now you know that there is always a welcoming community at Hendricks Chapel!

Celebration of Life in Honor of Cerri A. Banks to Be Held Thursday

By Kelly Homan Rodoski

Syracuse University will host a formal Celebration of Life service on Thursday, Sept. 8, to honor the life and legacy of Cerri A. Banks, vice president for student success and deputy to the senior vice president of student experience, who passed away unexpectedly on July 31.

The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel and feature remarks by Chancellor Kent Syverud; Allen Groves, senior vice president for the student experience and chief student experience officer; Mary Grace Almandrez, vice president for diversity and inclusion; Kelly Chandler-Olcott, interim dean of the School of Education; and Carla Guariglia ’23. Monica Davis will speak as a representative of the Banks family. The service will be immediately followed by a reception in the Noble Room of Hendricks Chapel.

“Cerri Banks embodied the spirit and soul of Syracuse University,” says Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel, who will preside over the ceremony. “In addition to her brilliant intellect, courageous leadership and authentic advocacy, she was wonderfully kind, fully trustworthy and bursting with joy. We grieve because of our loss, and we give thanks because of her impact.”

Banks was a three-time graduate of Syracuse University, having earned a bachelor’s degree in inclusive elementary and special education, a master’s degree in cultural foundations of education, and a Ph.D. in cultural foundations of education. After serving at Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges, Mount Holyoke College and Skidmore College, she returned to Syracuse University in July 2021.

In addition to her role as vice president for student success and deputy to the senior vice president of student experience, Banks served as a member of the three-person interim leadership team charged with advancing the University’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility priorities and strategic planning efforts. She was a member of the School of Education’s Board of Visitors since 2009 and served as its chair for the past seven years.

Dean Konkol’s Welcome Letter

Greetings from Hendricks Chapel!

On behalf of the student leaders, chaplains, faculty, staff, and advisors of Hendricks Chapel, welcome and welcome back to Syracuse University!

During this important time of discovery, I am writing to invite you to Hendricks Chapel, where we help students meet classmates, make friends, and explore some of life’s most pressing questions while leading in service to our common good.

Established in 1930 as a home for all faiths and a place for all people, Hendricks Chapel now sponsors over 1,000 programs for more than 500,000 annual attendees. We host 9 chaplaincies and 25 student-led groups, we employ student-workers, support musical ensembles, offer care through the Student Opportunity Fund and Food Pantry, support People’s Place Café (the only student-led coffee shop on campus!), and partner throughout the campus community to ensure all students find their purpose and reach their dreams. Please feel free to learn more at

In preparation for the upcoming semester, please know that Syracuse University recognizes and appreciates the diverse faith traditions represented among its campus community, so all students can make up examinations, study, or work missed due to religious observances in accordance with the religious observance policy. Students must notify their instructors of their respective observances through MySlice by Monday, September 19, 2022.

For additional information on upcoming events and services sponsored and hosted at Hendricks Chapel please visit here, email us at or call 315.443.2901.

I look forward to meeting you, welcome to Syracuse University, and Go Orange!


With gratitude,

The Rev. Brian Konkol, Ph.D.

Dean of Hendricks Chapel

Professor of Practice, Department of Religion

Syracuse University Launching Food Insecurity Awareness Week: Combating Food Insecurity as One University

By Christopher Munoz

Every day in the City of Syracuse, thousands of children face uncertainty over where their next meal will come from. According to U.S. Census data, the child poverty rate in the city in 2020 was 48.4%—the highest in the country. Syracuse University is teaming up with the Salvation Army of Syracuse to raise awareness of the problem and collect donations, coming together to combat food insecurity as one university and one community.

Starting Sept. 13, the University will launch an awareness initiative, Combating Food Insecurity as One University, highlighting efforts both on campus and throughout the City of Syracuse—culminating with a donation drive at the Syracuse University-Purdue football game at the JMA Wireless Dome on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Salvation Army Director of Emergency Services Allison Brooks says addressing food insecurity is especially important now.

Hendricks Chapel Food Pantry

The waiting room in our food pantry has been consistently full of local families who need food for months now and our shelves haven’t been this depleted since the recession in 2009,” Brooks says. “Food insecurity is a significant problem in Central New York, and we are thankful for our neighbors who continue to partner with us to combat hunger.”

Cydney Johnson, Syracuse University vice president of community engagement and government relations, says that this is an important call to action.

“Both on the University campus and in our Syracuse community, we have neighbors struggling with food insecurity and we can all help. We hope to bring more awareness to this issue by supporting the very good and ongoing work that many are doing to combat hunger,” Johnson says.

At the Sept. 17 football game, the Salvation Army of Syracuse will partner with the University to collect non-perishable food items for the Emergency Pantry. There will be drop-off barrels at 11 locations around campus approaching the JMA Wireless Dome ahead of the noon kickoff, and volunteers for the Salvation Army will collect monetary donations at Red Kettles stationed around the JMA Dome.

Currently, the pantry’s most-needed items include:

  • Pasta sauce (no glass)
  • Rice
  • Canned beans
  • Canned fruit
  • Juice (shelf-stable cartons or plastic)
  • Oatmeal

The Salvation Army’s food pantry has served more than 1,100 individuals in Syracuse over the last month. It provides families and individuals with enough food for three meals per day for five days. Pantry staff also assist with completing applications for food stamps, WIC and other resources.

“The food drive before the Syracuse University vs. Purdue football game is one way to give to the community to combat the problem of food insecurity,” Johnson says. “We ask all of our neighbors and fans to bring non-perishable food items to donate. Barrels will be along the way into the JMA Wireless Dome, and we hope the University and Syracuse community will help us help others!”

During the game on Sept. 17, there will also be a special ceremony during halftime recognizing the efforts of student and community leaders who work together as one every day to combat food insecurity.

On campus, there are several longstanding initiatives that make a difference in making sure people on campus and in the community who are in need have access to healthy food.

“Our students on the campus, along with the Hendricks Chapel Food Pantry, work to provide assistance and food to support our friends who may need a helping hand. In the Syracuse community, the need is significant,” Johnson says. “For our community members, their families and the children in our schools, food insecurity must be addressed, and we all can do our part.”

The Hendricks Chapel Food Pantry offers food and personal care items at no cost to students at both Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). The pantry, which has locations at both Hendricks Chapel and on South Campus at the Carriage House, 161 Farm Acre Rd., takes delivery of fresh vegetables when harvested or available from Pete’s Giving Garden, located on South Campus.

To support the Hendricks Chapel Food Pantry, individuals or groups of people can donate food or personal care items; hold a food and toiletry drive; or volunteer at the food pantry. For more information, visit the Hendricks Chapel Food Pantry webpage.

A student organization, the Food Recovery Network, is a collaboration between Syracuse University and SUNY ESF. Student volunteers go to dining centers each night to pick up untouched food, which is then distributed to homeless shelters, transitional housing and guest homes in the local area.

Students can recover about 100 pounds of food from every meal from just one dining hall. In 2021, they recovered almost 11 tons of food, contributing to more than 18,000 meals for people in need.

In terms of outreach to the community, the University supports the Samaritan Center, through Hendricks Chapel and volunteers from across campus. The Samaritan Center has been providing hot meals to the Syracuse community 7 days a week, all year long, since 1981. The center also offers case management support and access to services.

On Thursday, Sept. 15, Samaritan Center Executive Director Mary Beth Frey will be the presenter at Thursday Morning Roundtable starting at 8 a.m.

In another campus-community program, student-athletes support the work of Blessings in a Backpack, a nationwide program that provides food on the weekends to school-aged children in need. Each year, student-athletes take part in a fundraising effort for the Syracuse chapter.

Hendricks Chapel Welcomes Rabbi Ethan Bair

Rabbi Ethan Bair, an accomplished Jewish community leader, has joined the Syracuse University community as Hillel’s new rabbi and will serve as Jewish chaplain at Hendricks Chapel. Rabbi Bair brings over ten years of experience to Syracuse with a commitment to building interfaith partnerships to create an empowered spiritual Jewish community. “I am thrilled to be joining Syracuse Hillel and the Syracuse University community as campus rabbi and Jewish chaplain,” commented Rabbi Bair. “Hillel was instrumental in my own Jewish journey as an undergraduate at Oberlin College, and I am here to be a point of connection, mentor and resource to Jewish students, as they grapple with questions of meaning, purpose, true self and Jewish community throughout their time at Syracuse and beyond.”

For the past year, Rabbi Bair served as college rabbi and Hillel director at Hamilton College and prior to that he spent eight years as a congregational rabbi, most recently at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach. He was ordained as a Reform rabbi at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles in 2011, after which he served as the campus rabbi at USC Hillel and helped establish the Los Angeles office of American Jewish World Service. Rabbi Bair will work to support the students at Syracuse University as both rabbi and Jewish chaplain, providing them with the tools they need to enhance their Jewish experience in the coming years.

Originally from Boston, Rabbi Bair is a trained singer and graduate of Oberlin College where he triple-majored in Religion, Jewish Studies and German Studies. After graduation, he went on to study at Humboldt Universität in Berlin as a Fulbright Fellow.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rabbi Ethan Bair as our new campus rabbi. At Syracuse Hillel, we pride ourselves on supporting all our students. I am confident that Rabbi Bair will be a wonderful resource for our community, helping us in our mission-driven work here on campus.” said Jillian Juni, executive director of Syracuse Hillel.

Love at First Sight: Alumni Hugh and Zola Fulmer Celebrate 70th Wedding Anniversary

In early July, Hendricks Chapel enjoyed a very special phone call. Syracuse alumni Dr. Hugh ’48 and Zola Fulmer ’50 were preparing for the 70th anniversary of their wedding ceremony in Hendricks Chapel. Hugh and Zola’s story unfolded over a series of conversations with chapel staff and represents the best of #OrangeLove stories.

wedding portrait of Zola and Hugh Fulmer at Hendricks Chapel

Zola and Hugh Fulmer married in Hendricks Chapel in 1952.

In 1947 as undergraduates, Hugh and Zola, whose families hailed from Syracuse, spent most of their time on campus during the school year and then headed to their cottages in the Thousand Islands for the summer. Zola Jones was studying home economics while Hugh was working toward a degree in cultural anthropology.

While they were both in the Thousand Islands for the summer, Hugh noticed Zola, who was waitressing at a local hotel. He thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. However, in the style of the times, Hugh waited patiently until the following summer vacation to express his interest.

Hugh’s plan for a date had to be done just right in order to be respectful. He contacted Millie Lou, the waitressing supervisor, and asked if she could arrange a date with Zola Jones to a big upcoming dance on Wellesley Island. Millie Lou told him that she could try to make this very important connection.

But, on the night of the dance, Hugh discovered that Millie Lou had set him up with another girl. Zola had apparently already been spoken for and was attending the dance with someone else. Hugh saw Zola from across the room and remembered, “She was so close, yet so far away.”

Thankfully, Hugh, now 94 years old, persisted. Upon returning to Syracuse the following semester, he climbed on the bus and immediately noticed Zola sitting next to an elderly woman. Hugh impatiently waited, hopeful, until the older woman got off the bus and he thoughtfully moved to the seat behind her. He cleverly asked, “Aren’t you one of the Jones girls?”

Zola, who often modeled for Syracuse publications and local pharmacy ads, responded even more cleverly, “Aren’t you Hugh Fulmer?” It would seem this story would wrap up rather quickly after this obvious love-at-first-sight moment. However, it required an artful pursuit of Hugh making seven phone calls over a period of four months before Zola could find time for a first date with him.

On their first date, Zola wore a red dress. Hugh says, “She was a knockout. It just blew me away.” Their daughter, Kim, still has her mother’s first date dress. After that one occasion, they were “going steady” and eventually started planning their wedding.

Zola happened to be in home economics classes with Ann Noble, daughter of Hendricks Chapel’s Dean Charles Noble, who was also dating George Fulmer, Hugh’s older brother. As they planned their wedding, they realized they should be married in Hendricks Chapel. On July 12, 1952, their families and friends came together to celebrate Hugh and Zola as they exchanged vows at the spiritual heart of Syracuse University.

Zola and Hugh Fulmer riding in a car

Zola and Hugh Fulmer

Zola went on to become a home economics teacher while Hugh finished his medical internship. Hugh came from a long line of Syracuse Medical University graduates. His grandfather, Dr. George Price, graduated in 1888. His father, Herbert Clifford Fulmer, graduated as a general practitioner in 1917 and also served as editor of The Daily Orange. Hugh’s brother, Dr. George Price Fulmer, graduated from Syracuse Medical University just before him. Hugh was disappointed when SUNY Upstate Medical University took over Syracuse University’s medical school, making him a graduate of SUNY Upstate, yet he continued with his career, building an impressive resumé in his decades of experience.

After graduating from medical school, Dr. Fulmer was drafted for the Korean War. He enrolled in the Air Force as a general medical officer and was further trained as a flight surgeon who cared for flying personnel families in Maine.

After the war, Hugh and Zola moved their children to Arizona to treat tuberculosis patients in the Navajo Nation through the Many Farms Navajo-Cornell Field Health Research Project.

They stayed in Arizona for a couple of years before Hugh returned to school, receiving a master of public health degree from Harvard University. Hugh’s dedication to public health and medicine, combined with his roots in cultural anthropology, led him and his family to Malaysia when he joined the U.S. Peace Corps.

Later, from 1960-68, Dr. Fulmer was a professor at the University of Kentucky’s new medical school, where he founded the first Department of Community Medicine in the country. Dr. Fulmer worked at the University of Massachusetts Medical School until 1983 and then concluded his last official medical position as executive director for the Center for Community Responsive Care in 2015.

Hugh and Zola, who are both 94 years old, currently live in their family cottage on Wellesley Island in the Thousand Islands. Their children and grandchildren visit frequently from across the United States.

“To learn about Hugh and Zola is an important reminder that our Syracuse University campus community is filled with remarkable people. Whether it is marriage, military service, public health or home economics, those who faithfully contribute to something larger than themselves truly do lead in service to our common good,” says Reverend Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel. “We are honored that Hugh and Zola chose Hendricks Chapel for their wedding, and grateful that they continue to shape the story of Syracuse University.”

For more information on Hendricks Chapel, including weddings, visit

From the US Army to Syracuse University, Chaplain Captain Stoney Douthitt Loves to Serve

After serving for eight years as an active-duty chaplain in the U.S. Army, Chaplain Captain Stoney Douthitt G’22 came to Syracuse University during the summer of 2021. In the past year, he has been steadily working toward a dual master’s degree from the Whitman School of Management and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Hendricks Chapel was one of his first stops on campus, where he was warmly welcomed as a Baptist chaplain, working alongside Devon and Kate Bartholomew.

Douthitt never planned to join the military. Before going into the Army, he received a master’s degree in economics, taught in college classrooms for a while and then chose to become a minister. After attending The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, he spent time planting new churches, but he knew there was more to his path. While he was awaiting direction, his friend said, “Why don’t you join the Army as a chaplain?”

Initially, Douthitt wasn’t interested. He was pretty sure that he’d passed the age limit, but he checked into it, just in case. Stoney discovered that the age requirements had recently changed from 40 to 42. So, at age 41 and after losing 60 pounds to meet the weight requirement, Stoney went in for his physical test. “By the time I was done with that physical, I was convinced that that’s what God wanted me to do for the next season of my life,” he says.

Douthitt trained as a soldier, but never carried a weapon. He was paired with a religious affairs specialist, an enlisted soldier, who was there to protect him while in the field and assisted with chaplaincy items during downtime.

When new soldiers joined the squad, they would ask, “Hey, where’s the chapel?” and one of the troops would point to Douthitt and say, “He’s over there!” While he is an ordained Baptist minister, Army chaplains are called upon to serve all enlisted soldiers. The Army hires one chaplain for each battalion, so the chaplain could identify as Catholic, Buddhist, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish or Hindu. Therefore, he felt right at home in Hendricks Chapel, the spiritual heart of Syracuse University known as a home for all faiths and a place for all people.

As a protestant chaplain in the Army, Douthitt was authorized to perform a wide range of religious services, but his main role was to ensure that the soldiers could exercise their right to worship or to choose not to worship at all. When soldiers sought a worship service outside of Douthitt’s Protestant tradition, he ensured that the respective religious representative could visit the troops.

Stoney attended many of the Baptist chaplaincy picnics at Hendricks Chapel.

Other times, the soldiers joined whatever service was offered without compromising their religious tenets. “It’s better to do it together than to not do anything at all,” Douthitt says. “Everybody in my unit knows that I’m Protestant, but that really doesn’t matter because I’m there, as we say, ‘To bring God to soldiers and soldiers to God.’”

There are approximately 3,000 Army chaplains, of all faiths, at any one time. After serving for eight years, some Army chaplains choose to become hospital chaplains, congregational preachers, counselors, professors—and sometimes defense comptrollers. Very few are chosen to become defense comptrollers. Each year, just one or two Army chaplains are sent to the Defense Comptrollership Program (DCP), a cooperative endeavor between Syracuse University and the U.S. Department of Defense, to achieve dual degrees: a master of business administration (MBA) through the Martin J. Whitman School of Management and an executive master of public administration (E.M.P.A.) through the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Syracuse University is the only institution in the U.S. that offers this program. From his background in economics, Douthitt’s new role fits perfectly. “I’ll function as the liaison between Congress and our Army branches to make sure the chaplaincy money is spent correctly,” he says. “I’ll make sure that every dollar allocated from Congress will go straight to Army ministries.”

Douthitt enjoyed his time at Syracuse, finding the Maxwell School to be very complementary to his pastoral work. “At Maxwell, I learned so much about communication styles and I became introspective about my own communication styles and motivations,” he says. His new knowledge of interest-based negotiation and arbitration, paired with the heart strengths of a chaplain, will serve his work in both the office and as a pastor.

“A lot of what I do is walk into a room with people at different ranks and different jobs, and they all have a stake in the game,” Douthitt says. “They each want to steer the meeting and I’m there to help everyone thrive; sometimes it feels like that’s not possible. Like if one person thrives, he believes the other person must fail, you know? I feel like I’m in the middle all the time. I have gained so many tools from the Maxwell School to help me thrive so that I can help others thrive too.”

Soon, Douthitt will graduate from Syracuse and begin his new position in San Antonio, Texas, where his wife and family will join him from Kentucky. He’ll be missed by many students and the University’s other Baptist chaplains, like Devon Bartholomew, who says, “Stoney has been a true blessing to Syracuse University and the Baptist Chaplaincy. He has served in many ways, from preaching at Campus Church to cheering on our students and staff. Stoney is a true friend who fully understands what it means to walk alongside others and to be a blessing in midst of the highs and lows of life.”

If you’d like to keep in touch with Douthitt, you can reach him at For more information about Hendricks Chapel’s chaplaincies and religious communities, visit

Haudenosaunee Welcome Gathering: An Invitation to Celebrate on Sacred Land

Diane Schenandoah ’11, sculptor and spiritual advisor at the Barnes Center at The Arch, is hosting a traditional Haudenosaunee welcoming event, the Haudenosaunee Welcome Gathering, to be held on the Shaw Quad, Monday, August 29th, from 4-5 p.m.

This ancient traditional welcoming occurred whenever visitors appeared in Haudenosaunee villages. “Our ancestors sent singers to welcome visitors, then they spent the evening celebrating with song, dance, and food to nourish them for their journeys,” says Schenandoah. “We gathered to show the Creator that we are grateful to be a part of all creation here on Mother Earth.”

The Haudenosaunee Welcome Gathering is a new annual event held on campus to welcome all students, faculty, and staff into Haudenosaunee territory. Schenandoah is a citizen of the Oneida Nation and a Wolf Clan Faithkeeper. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is comprised of the Six Nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and the Tuscarora.

“It’s important to acknowledge and recognize that there are indigenous peoples still here and that we are all standing in the capital of the Haudenosaunee territory,” says Schenandoah. “This land is sacred. We welcome visitors to be part of this sacred place. Part of our teaching is that no one can own the land, so it’s important to remember that Syracuse University is part of a much bigger picture.”

When she started as the University community’s first Honwadiyenawa’sek—One who helps them—Schenandoah shared cultural beliefs through the Full Moon Ceremony and Witness to Injustice. Schenandoah says she is excited to share more teachings of the Haudenosaunee, the ways of her ancestors and relatives, and the little known fact that Syracuse is the birthplace of modern-day democracy. Through these teachings, Schenandoah hopes to offer awareness, acknowledgment and forgiveness.

At the gathering, speakers and dancers will set the stage for the new academic year. Hot scones and traditional strawberry drink will be offered. The hot scones are derived from traditional breads and the strawberry drink consists of strawberries, maple syrup, and water. “This is significant because strawberries are the leaders of the plants and maples are the leaders of the trees. In this way we honor them,” says Schenandoah.

Schenandoah encourages students, faculty, and staff to participate in the Haudenosaunee Welcome Gathering. “We are sharing our culture because the Earth is calling to us to pay attention, we require collective healing, and most importantly, we are inviting our community to live in gratitude,” she says.

For more information on this and other Hendricks Chapel events, visit